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The site

Mankhurd has been demarcated by the government of Mumbai for R&R projects. Close to 50,000 people live in the dense settlements of Mankhurd, a space practically begging for a public realm.

Initial ideas sketched out

The group came to the conclusion that instead of introducing art to a public space, they would create the infrastructure for an artistic public realm.

A conceptual section showing the context

In an offsetted space, next to building 21 of Lallubhai compound, Rupali, Prasad and CAMP found a worn out shed.

The construction begins on the dilapidated shed

Instead of constructing something anew into the already-negligible open space, the team chose to redo the shed.

As the shed transforms, gradually, into R&R

The structure was to be a double height space, with a mezzanine library above a multipurpose hall.

A palette of recycled materials

They were able to fabricate the entire structure out of recycled materials like steel, coloured acrylic sheets and a gold speckled corrugated roof made out of recycled tetra packs.

A dash of colour

A carpenter, Ali, from Bandra helped clad the steel with colourful acrylic sheets that filtered north light into the shed and made the space happy and bright.

An array of crowd sourced books

Once built and stocked with crowdsourced books, R&R began to fill up with children of all ages, from all over Mankhurd.

R&R in use

“The place is now one of the most active spaces in Mankhurd, with little kids coming here straight from school to either borrow a book or do their homework or play with the collection of toys at the centre.”

The back garden

A patch adjacent to R&R which had been used as a dumping ground for years, was cleaned up and converted into a garden.

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Workspace 11 Jul 2018

Built out of recycled materials in a matter of 3 days, R&R is Lallubhai Compound’s artsy community space

When a plot of urban land needs to be developed for public infrastructure projects – like building a road or a bridge – the inhabitants of that space are relocated by the government and provided with rehabilitation in the outskirts of the city. The resultant is that tens of thousands of people are resettled, away from their livelihoods and social networks, into dense mid-high rise buildings, sans any community or social amenities. R&R – Resettlement and Rehabilitation – is the cold term used for these projects, while PAP – Project Affected People – is the term for the residents of these R&Rs. But what if R&R could mean Relax and Rejuvenate, or Rock and Roll, or Read and Research?

The Project

2015 saw Khanabadosh and Institute for Contemporary Art Research, Zurich University of the Arts, initiate Draft: a global project to consider how art can contribute to the public realm. 9 artists from across the globe were invited for 9 months to research, plan and execute different projects. Among them was Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty, architects and academicians from SEA along with CAMP, an artists’ collective studio and Khanabadosh themselves.

The group came to the conclusion that instead of introducing art to a public space, they would create the infrastructure for an artistic public realm – since that’s often missing, especially in dense cities like Mumbai. The concept then stretched to creating a public space that introduces artistic forms of thinking, resulting in the notion of a library plus an extended multipurpose facility.

Initial ideas sketched out

The group came to the conclusion that instead of introducing art to a public space, they would create the infrastructure for an artistic public realm.

“We needed the space to be put together very quickly hence we chose to make it out of steel. Using the expertise of Sharifbhai, a welder from Kurla, we put up the superstructure in three days.”

A search for the site

Once the team derived the programme, they sought out a space to build it. Simpreet Singh, a housing rights activist - and a part of the team that eventually set up R&R - introduced them to Mankhurd (an area he works in and around), a large site on the outskirts of Mumbai. Mankhurd has been demarcated by the government of Mumbai for R&R projects. Close to 50,000 people live in the dense settlements of Mankhurd, an area practically begging for a public space.

The site

Mankhurd has been demarcated by the government of Mumbai for R&R projects. Close to 50,000 people live in the dense settlements of Mankhurd, a space practically begging for a public realm.

Although the government doesn’t provide PAP with community spaces, they do provide a small area around the mid-rise building, for the people to form their own community spaces. However, these spaces often go unnoticed, wasted, or treated as garbage dumps. In one such offsetted space, next to building 21 of Lallubhai compound, Rupali, Prasad, Khanabadosh and CAMP found a worn out shed. Instead of constructing something anew into the limited open space, the team chose to redo the shed.

A conceptual section showing the context

In an offsetted space, next to building 21 of Lallubhai compound, Rupali, Prasad and CAMP found a worn out shed.

The process

Draft allowed the groups a budget to materialise their research. Using this fund, Rupali and Prasad’s architectural background, and CAMP & Khanabadosh’s artistic skills; the team set on to build R&R – a pun on Resettlement and Rehabilitation – a space to Relax and Rejuvenate, Rock and Roll, Read and Research or any R&R that suited the user.

The construction begins on the dilapidated shed

Instead of constructing something anew into the already-negligible open space, the team chose to redo the shed.

As the shed transforms, gradually, into R&R

The structure was to be a double height space, with a mezzanine library above a multipurpose hall.

The structure was to be a double height space, with a mezzanine library above a multipurpose hall. The existing building was small and had a plinth, so the team used steel sections to build on the footing. “We needed the space to be put together very quickly hence we chose to make it out of steel. Using the expertise of Sharifbhai, a welder from Kurla, we put up the superstructure in three days,” Rupali tells us.

The entire structure was prefabricated, and then welded on site. Since Kurla ( a neighbouring area) is Mumbai’s biggest recycling centre, they were able to fabricate the entire structure out of recycled materials like steel, coloured acrylic sheets and a gold speckled corrugated roof made out of recycled tetra packs.

A palette of recycled materials

They were able to fabricate the entire structure out of recycled materials like steel, coloured acrylic sheets and a gold speckled corrugated roof made out of recycled tetra packs.

“The place is now one of the most active spaces in Mankhurd, with little kids coming here straight from school to either borrow a book or do their homework or play with the collection of toys at the center.”

Lallubhai compound is inhabited by a number of people who are experts in building trades. With them working as masons, painters, a plumber and an electrician, R&R was somewhat locally crowdsourced. A carpenter, Ali, from Bandra helped clad the steel with colourful acrylic sheets that filtered north light into the shed and made the space happy and bright.

A dash of colour

A carpenter, Ali, from Bandra helped clad the steel with colourful acrylic sheets that filtered north light into the shed and made the space happy and bright.

An array of crowd sourced books

Once built and stocked with crowdsourced books, R&R began to fill up with children of all ages, from all over Mankhurd.

An organic evolution

Once built and stocked with crowdsourced books, R&R began to fill up with children of all ages, from all over Mankhurd. Movies were screened, informal workshops conducted, wifi provided. “The place is now one of the most active spaces in Mankhurd, with little kids coming here straight from school to either borrow a book or do their homework or play with the collection of toys at the center,” says Rupali.

R&R in use

“The place is now one of the most active spaces in Mankhurd, with little kids coming here straight from school to either borrow a book or do their homework or play with the collection of toys at the centre.”

A patch adjacent to R&R – essentially the back area of building 21 – which had been used as a dumping ground for years, was cleaned up and converted into a garden. Corporators provided play equipment, turning the area into a park that’s now loved by the children.

The back garden

A patch adjacent to R&R which had been used as a dumping ground for years, was cleaned up and converted into a garden.

Local groups and NGOs too, use the space for community activities. All in all, the space has brought the community together in a delightful way, implying that social spaces like these are an essential part of building a community. As we bid farewell, Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty leave us with future dreams to build many such R&Rs all over the country.

Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty are academicians who are a part of the committee that runs School of Environment and Architecture (SEA).To know more about the Draft project check out Khanabadosh’s page. Also check out one third of R&R’s team CAMP.

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